Sunday, December 06, 2009

making stuff is fun!

'Tis the season to be jolly, so they say. I reckon you don't need an excuse to have fun in the kitchen and make stuff.

For a change I'm remembering to keep some of the bounty for myself. The batches are small, no massive all day assembly line productions, just exploring some new (and old) recipes and making sure there's a spare or two to share.

It began sedately in November with preserved lemons, spiced prunes (organic Australian prunes bathed in cointreau and spices) and homemade vanilla essence.

This weekend I stepped up the challenge, playing with some ideas that I've had for a while. Here are a couple of recipes to add to the collection.

Lemon cordial

Equal quantities of fresh lemon juice and sugar syrup (sugar syrup = equal quantities of sugar and water, bought to a simmer til the sugar melts).

Yes, it is as simple as that! A touch of citric acid will extend the shelf life, you only need 1/2 tsp per 500 mls of cordial.

Update: Cindy was spot on wither her comment - a dash of rose water really lifts this cordial and all subsequent batches have had a generous capful of rose water.

Serve with chilled mineral water (and a dash of clear spirits if you desire).

Vegan chocolate Truffles

2 parts good quality, dairy-free dark chocolate
1 part coconut cream
a dash of your favourite liqueur (optional)

cocoa powder for dusting

Roughly chop your chocolate then blitz in a food processor until granular (I borrowed this method from Delia Smith who uses the description "granular like sugar"). I then measured my ground chocolate to determine how much coconut cream I needed. I used 2 cups of ground chocolate and 1 cup of coconut cream. Heat your coconut cream til it starts to bubbles. It's quite thick so it tends to boil like a Rotorua mud pool - fortunately it doesn't smell like that. Pour half of the hot coconut cream into the chocolate that you have returned to the food processor and blitz. Add the rest of the hot coconut cream and give it another blast. The resulting ganache is glossy and inviting. I've read a good tip, if the mixture splits just add some cold coconut cream.

You can leave the mixture as is or fortify it with your favourite booze. I used about 3 tablespoons of my spiced cointreau that the prunes had been marinating in - as the cardamons, cinnamon and cloves combined with the orange flavour of the liqueur was delightfully festive. It's best to add a small amount, mix, taste and add more as needed rather than pour the lot in at once.

Pour the ganache into a tray or tub to firm up in the fridge or the freezer. It only needs an hour or two in the latter. Once it is firm but not too hard to roll get ready for the fun.

Remove your rings, scrub your hands, have a bowl of ice water and an old hand towel ready. If your hands are warm dunk them into the chilled water and then dry them. Use a spoon or a melon-baller to scoop up a small amount of the firm ganache and roll into a ball. Set aside. Repeat the process, dunking your hands to cool them off as need be.

Once you've finished rolling your balls, place some cocoa powder in a bowl or cup and using two forks to handle them, drop the balls in the cocoa and toss 'til they are covered. Place on a rack so any excess cocoa can fall off. I must admit my balls were far from perfectly shaped but after a dunk in cocoa they didn't look so bad. Keep the truffles cool and consume within a week.

The truffles are rich and luscious, with that melt in the mouth feel that makes you crave more.

Enjoy the season!

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Blogger Cindy said...

Awesome! These are all right up my alley. I can also recommend a dash of rosewater in the lemon cordial.

I've been trying my hand at dairy-free glace-free White Christmas today.

6:45 pm  
Blogger Another Outspoken Female said...

Can't wait to try the rosewater in the cordial.

I'm with you about the dairy and glace fruit free white xmas. Even without those I tend to find it sickly sweet. Wonder how it would be with some dried cherries or candied peel?

9:16 am  
Blogger Cindy said...

Great minds and all that - my new version has half the icing sugar and lots of dried cherries. :-)

9:24 am  
Blogger Mary said...

Ooh yes, there's nothing better than making these kinds of things as gifts (and keeping some for yourself). Recently, I made a pumpkin and date chutney, and elderflower champagne and elderflower syrup. The champagne is especially good with gin, mint and strawberries. Hurrah for summer evenings!

8:10 pm  
Blogger Johanna said...

sounds like you've been industrious - the spiced prunes sound like a fine accompaniment to the truffles

10:07 pm  
Blogger Lucy said...

Well, I can vouch for them truffles.

We ate them all far too quickly...

Rosewater in lemon cordial - beautiful, Cindy!

2:48 pm  

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